Smoked Prime Rib

At the request of the public, I am revealing some of the secrets behind the Bad Wolf Holiday dinners. My thanks to Victor “Face” Bustillo for recording the image above.

Always slated for the Sunday before Christmas, the feast show lighted many culinary feats, but the star was always a dry-aged, smoked prime rib.

We will not delve into dry-aging here, nor will we size this to the usual 50+ pounds of meat; instead, we will focus on delivering a more modest and achievable entree.

I usually purchase a full rack of ribs and cook bone-in, which helps to control the temperature rise, and the roasted bones are a prize. However, when this is not an option, try to get a 3-5 rib roast, and if you are not up to performing the autopsy to remove the bones after cooking, have the butcher remove the bones and then tie them back on. Yes, this is a bit of a process, but this is a meal we do once a year, so take the time.

Note: A three-rib roast weighs about 8 lbs, a four-rib average 10, and a five-rib run 12. Consider that a rib can feed two people modestly or one person in a generous fashion. (Two ribs are a steak, not a roast.)

A note on smoking times and temperatures, LOW AND SLOW are critical; I smoke at 225 and accept that this will double my cooking time. Higher temperatures will shorten the cooking time but produce a less desirable texture. (We are looking for a fork-tender slice.) The low slow cooking process will convert the collagen into gelatin and instill that lip-smacking flavor.

A note on smoking chips or pellets; use a fruit chip (apple or cherry); the stronger chips (oak or mesquite) will overpower the meat. I also soak my chips in a mixture of half bourbon and half water, the bourbon adds a nice taste, but the water helps to keep the chips from burning all at once.

Cook to temperature, not time; these are GUIDELINES, not rules:

  • 225 Degrees will take roughly 40 minutes per pound
  • 250 Degrees will take approximately 30 minutes per pound
  • 275 Degrees will take about 20 minutes per pound


  • 4 Pound Prime Rib = 2.6 hours
  • 6 pound Prime Rib = 4 hours
  • 8 pound Prime Rib = 5.3 hours
  • 10 pound Prime Rib = 6.6 hours

Also, note that I prepare the meat 24-36 hours In advance and let it age in the refrigerator. This is not mandatory but is suggested. The resting time after cooking is mandatory, at least 30 minutes for a five-pound roast.

I use a herbal paste to add subtle flavor and move the roast directly from the refrigerator to the smoker.

And a note on the finished temperatures (after rest), Medium is a happy medium, and my target for the end slices, the center will be rare for the true carnivores:

  • Rare: 120-130 degrees F
  • Medium Rare: 130-140 degrees F
  • Medium: 140-150 degrees F
  • Medium Well: 150-160 degrees F (For people who enjoy shoe leather)
  • Well Done: 160 degrees F (THIS IS A CRIME!)

From Wikipedia:

A standing rib roast, also known as prime rib, is a cut of beef from the primal rib, one of the nine primal cuts of beef. While the entire rib section comprises ribs six through 12, a standing rib roast may contain anywhere from two to seven ribs.

It is most often roasted “standing” on the rib bones so that the meat does not touch the pan. An alternative cut removes the top end of the ribs for easier carving.

Rib-eye steaks are cut from a standing rib, boned with most of the fat and lesser muscles removed.

While often referred to as “prime rib,” the USDA does not require the cut to be derived from USDA Prime grade beef.

Smoked Prime Rib

Smoked Prime Rib is THE SHOWSTOPPER Holiday Meal
Prep Time 1 d 30 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs 30 mins
Resting Time 30 mins
Total Time 1 d 4 hrs 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, British
Servings 6
Calories 1298 kcal


  • 1 Smoker
  • 1 Cooler
  • 1 ThermoProbe Thermometer


Herb Paste

  • 4 Cloves Garlic Peeled
  • 1 tbsp Rosemary Fresh, Please
  • 1 tbsp Thyme Fresh
  • 1 tbsp Sage Fresh
  • 1/4 cup olive oil E.V.O.O.

Prime Rib

  • 5 lb Rib Roast Prime is best, see notes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil E.V.O.O.
  • 2 tbsp Black Pepper Coarse Grind, FRESH!
  • 2 tbsp Salt Kosher!


Herb Paste

  • Place all herb paste ingredients into a food processor and pulse a few times until combined into a chunky paste. (double recipe if the roast is over 5 pounds)

Rib Roast

  • THE DAY BEFORE: Apply olive oil, salt, and pepper generously to the rib roast. Then apply the paste.
  • Store overnight in the refrigerator to allow the seasoning to incorporate into the meat
  • Preheat the smoker to 225; I use apple or cherry chips. Stay away from oak or anything mesquite. (They are too harsh.) Make sure there is water in your smoker pan.
  • Place the seasoned rib roast on the smoker, bone side down.
  • Use a thermoprobe inserted into the thickest part of the roast.
  • Smoke the roast for roughly 3 ½ hours or until the center of the meat reads 125 degrees F. Allow ~ 40 minutes per pound.
  • Remove the roast from the smoker, wrap it in foil or butcher paper, and stash it in a cooler for at least 30 minutes. (This will hold for several hours.)


General Notes:
Beef Temperature Chart:
  • Rare: 120-130 degrees F
  • Medium Rare: 130-140 degrees F
  • Medium: 140-150 degrees F
  • Medium Well: 150-160 degrees F (THIS IS UNKIND)
  • Well Done: 160 degrees F (THIS IS A CRIME)
Note:  At a finish temp of 130 Internal, you can expect the ends to be medium well and the center to be medium rare.  
Smoking Time:
  • 225 Degrees will take roughly 40 minutes per pound
  • 250 Degrees will take approximately 30 minutes per pound
  • 275 Degrees will take about 20 minutes per pound
  • CONSTANT TEMPERATURE IS KEY – DO NOT KEEP OPENING THE SMOKER – Use the thermoprobe to track progress.
NOTE:   LOW AND SLOW IS THE BEST.  Rushing this will ruin the meal.


Calories: 1298kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 52gFat: 119gSaturated Fat: 45gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 57gCholesterol: 229mgSodium: 2495mgPotassium: 885mgFiber: 1gSugar: 0.03gVitamin A: 77IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 58mgIron: 6mg
Keyword Holidays, Prime Rib, Smoked
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

  Filed under: American, Roast, Slow Cook, Smoked, Winter

Be the first to write a comment.

Your feedback

You must be logged in to post a comment.